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A Church Annulment. The word annulment should be avoided altogether. The problem is that it is an action word – indicating that you are doing something.

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Presentation on theme: "A Church Annulment. The word annulment should be avoided altogether. The problem is that it is an action word – indicating that you are doing something."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Church Annulment

2 The word annulment should be avoided altogether. The problem is that it is an action word – indicating that you are doing something to something else. Marriage is either valid (and binding for life) or null (and not binding) from the moment of exchange of consent in Catholic law and teaching. The presumption of law (canon 1060) is that marriage is valid (and binding) until proven otherwise. The first meaning of null in the Oxford dictionary is “not binding”, not non-existent. This is what happens in the tribunal process: if the marriage is declared null at the end of the day it means that it no longer binds the couple and they may enter a new marriage. If it is declared valid, then it is binding until death and they may not enter a new marriage during the lifetime of the partner

3 A definition of nullity: A declaration of nullity of marriage by the Catholic Church is a statement that, after due examination by a competent Catholic tribunal, what was thought to be a valid and binding marriage is, in fact, null and not binding. Marriage is either valid or null from the moment of the exchange of consent, but the presumption is that the marriage is valid until proven otherwise. Nothing that happens after the wedding makes the marriage invalid or null.

4 There are three cases in which marriage may be null: 1. Lack of canonical form for Catholics 2. Presence of an impediment 3. Inadequate consent by either party Source: prepared by material supplied by Father Brian Clough, Marriage Tribunal, Archdiocese of Toronto

5 Cases in which the Marriage may be null: Church law speaks of valid and invalid marriage, not valid and invalid sacramental marriage. In two cases, a marriage can be dissolved. If it is not sacramental (which requires valid baptism in both spouses) then the marriage might be dissolved by the Church if it has already ended civilly. If a marriage has never been consummated after the exchange of consent, whether the marriage is sacramental (both are baptized) or not (only one is baptized or neither is baptized), the marriage can be dissolved.

6 Canonical form for Catholics This means that Catholics must exchange their vows before a Catholic bishop, priest or deacon for validity. They may get a dispensation from this requirement for a good reason (e.g. the bride is very active in her church, where her father is a warden and she sings in the choir; the groom is a barely active Catholic). The Canadian tradition is marriage take places in the church of the bride, so, as long as the Catholic promises to his best to safeguard his own faith and to try and raise the children as Catholics, then the Bishop will dispense from canonical form when a Catholic man marries a no-Catholic woman.

7 IMPEDIMENTS These are qualities in a person which make the person incapable of marrying – you are under age, you are already married, you are too closely related by law, you are ordained, etc. Even though only one person is under the impediment it causes the marriage to be invalid, because both must be free. The impediments listed are only for Latin or Western Catholics. Eastern Catholics have another two.

8 IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE continued… NON AGE If either party is below the minimum legal age (16 years for a male and 14 years for female), then the marriage is valid. IMPOTENCE A Marriage is invalid if it is quite certain that either party will be unable to consummate the marriage.

9 IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE continued… PREVIOUS BOND The Church cannot recognize the remarriage of a person during the lifetime of a former spouse unless the former marriage has been declared null by an ecclesiastical tribunal or dissolved by the authority of the Pope. DISPARITY OF CULT A marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person is invalid, unless the bishop dispenses from the impediment.

10 IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE continued… SACRED ORDERS If a deacon, a priest or a bishop attempts a marriage, it is invalid. PUBLIC VOWS A religious male or female who has made a public vow of celibacy cannot marry unless dispensed from the impediment. ABDUCTION If a person is forcibly abducted or detained, no valid marriage can take place.

11 IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE continued… CRIME If a spouse is murdered to pave the way for a new marriage, no valid marriage can take place. CONSANQUINITY Marriages of very close blood relatives are invalid. AFFINITY A person can not marry a deceased partner’s parent or child.

12 IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE continued… DE FACTO RELATIVES If a couple lives together, neither of them may later marry the mother or daughter, father or son of the other person. ADOPTION A person may not marry an adopted son/daughter or brother/sister. Source: prepared by material supplied by Father Brian Clough, Marriage Tribunal, Archdiocese of Toronto

13 CONSENT If a serious defect in the consent element of the marriage occurs, it can be rendered invalid. Consent is what makes marriage - with adequate consent freely given. There are some defects in consent, which render the consent ineffective

14 CONSENT continued… Force or grave fear (canon 1103). Force is an external threat of harm; fear comes from within and is an intimidation of the mind (for example, my father will throw me out of the house if he finds out I’m pregnant) – so there is a threat element but no so obvious as the shotgun.

15 CONSENT continued… Conditions regarding the future (canon 1102) – I’ll marry you if you become a Catholic afterwards – always invalidates. Conditions regarding the present (I’ll marry you if you’ve got that million dollars) or the past (I’ll marry you if you’ve never had or sired a child in the past) will be invalidating insofar as they are true or not.

16 CONSENT continued… Simulation (canon 1101) invalidates when there is a contradiction between the external manifestations of consent by a person and what he or she internally intends in these five areas: one says “I do” but really does not intend to bind oneself to marriage fidelity – if on the wedding day, a person has the intention of being unfaithful, then the marriage is invalid opermanence – if on the wedding day, a person intends only a trial marriage and had the intention of going his or her own way whenever desired, then the marriage is invalid. oOpenness to children – if, on the wedding day, either party is intending to deny to the other the right to have children, then the marriage is invalid. oOne says “I do” but does not intend the good of the spouses (see definition in CCC§1601)

17 CONSENT continued… Fraud (canon 1098) - a person enters an invalid marriage if deceived by fraud in order to obtain marital consent. (Oh yes, I want children, he says, knowing that he has had a double vasectomy and cannot father children.)

18 CONSENT continued… Error (cannon 1097) about a person (he can’t see the person under the veil and it’s her identical twin sister) or about a quality of a person (she always said she’d only marry a doctor, so he pretended to be a doctor to get her consent – otherwise she’d never have married him).

19 CONSENT continued… Lack of sufficient use of reason (cannon 1095.1) – through mental illness, severe mental retardation, alcoholic stupor or high on drugs, for example.

20 CONSENT continued… Serious lack of discretion of judgment on the matrimonial rights and obligations (cannon 1095.2). A person may not fully understand the reality that she or he was consenting to on the wedding day. In essence, given the person’ background and/or circumstances, he or she is quite incapable of making any realistic evaluations of the marriage being entered.

21 CONSENT continued… Incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage for causes of a psychic nature (e.g. the alcoholic, the schizophrenic not controlled by medication, the homosexual, the manipulative who cannot give of himself/herself, etc.)

22 Stages of Church Annulment Stages of the Nullity Process in most Canadian Tribunals: You submit an application form (which can be obtained from the tribunal or from your parish). In some case you will be personally interviewed an in others you will complete a questionnaire which tries to cover most of the items in the interview, with perhaps a short supplementary interview to follow. Someone from the tribunal writes a petition for you to sign and submit, based on your interview/questionnaire. At least three witnesses, who have known you both from before the wedding, are required. Family members, best man/maid of honour, etc., are sometimes chosen.

23 Stages of Church Annulment continued… When the petition is received, a tribunal is constituted to accept or reject the petition. Usually petitions are accepted if it seems likely the case can be proven. If accepted, then the former spouse is contacted by the tribunal to see if he/she wishes to participate in the process by giving evidence and naming witnesses. After the other party replies, the ground on which the case will be tried is established by the judge. The witnesses are heard and any available medical/counselling information is added to the file. The case is transcribed (usually interviews are conducted with a tape running) and the parties make their remarks on the evidence.

24 Stages of Church Annulment continued… If the parties named advocates, which is not usually the case in Canada, then the advocates make their remarks on the evidence. The case goes to the person called the defender of the bond, who has the duty of pointing out those facts, which favour validity. The case goes to a sole judge if it is clear or to a panel of three if not so clear. Majority vote determines the outcome. The decision is written up and the parties are informed. There is a fifteen-day appeal period.

25 Stages of Church Annulment continued… At the end of the appeal period the case goes to the second instance (level) tribunal which reviews the procedure and the content of the case. It may simply confirm the first decision or send it to full trial again, (which may still result in confirming the first decision or could lead to an overturning). If there are two conforming decisions the case is over (either the marriage is declared null or valid). If the marriage is declared null, then the parties are free to enter a new marriage in the Catholic Church, although there may be extra preparation requirements due to something learned during the process (e.g. one person has a serious alcohol problem which just be dealt with prior to any new marriage, or, one person did not accept the responsibility of fidelity in the first wedding and we must be sure he/she accepts it now).

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